Thor and the Cauldron

Thor catching Jormungand~18th century Icelandic manuscript
Thor catching Jormungand~18th century Icelandic manuscript

The gods of Asgard decided one day to hold a feast, but Aegir, the god who prepared the ale, told the other gods that he didn’t have a cauldron big enough to suit their needs.

The gods knew of the very cauldron they wanted; it belonged to Tyr’s father, the giant Hymir (HEE-meer). It was a MILE DEEP! Surely a cauldron that big would be big enough for the gods and their feast. So, Thor, in disguise, traveled to obtain this enormous cauldron from Hymir.

At dinner, Hymir served three oxen and was surprised and a little put-out when Thor ate two entire oxen at the meal. Rude! Thor has a big appetite.

The next day Hymir told Thor that if they were to eat again that day, they had to go fishing for more food, but Thor had find his own bait. What did Thor do? He pulled the head off Hymir’s largest ox!  Hymir was not amused or pleased. But they went fishing together anyway. Thor took the oars and rowed out to sea. Hymir caught two whales, but then Thor rowed them out even farther. Hymir, wisely, was afraid of Jormungand, the Midgard Serpent, the serpent that wraps its body around the world.

Thor and Hymir stopped and Thor placed his enormous bait on his fishing hook and cast off. Although Hymir did not know it Thor wanted to catch Jormungand. And he did. The giant serpent was caught on Thor’s hook and as Thor brought him up the serpent thrashed around and spit poison. Thor, with his considerable god strength, stretched out to brace his legs and they went right through the bottom of the boat and onto the floor of the ocean. Jormungand struggled and fought, so Thor got out his mighty hammer Mjolnir and began to beat the  serpent with it. Then, all of a sudden, Hymir panicked and cut the line, allowing Jormungand to break free. Jormungand returned to the sea but held a lasting and fatal grudge against Thor.

Thor was upset with Hymir for cutting his line, so he threw Hymir overboard. When they arrived at shore, Thor carried the boat and the two whales that Hymir had caught back to the hall.

As they feasted, Hymir fumed and challenged Thor to break a glass goblet against a pillar. Thor threw the goblet, but instead of breaking the glass, it broke the pillar. Hymir’s wife whispered to Thor and told him to try breaking the goblet against Hymir’s head instead, which she said was harder than stone. Thor smashed the goblet against Hymir’s head and it broke.

Hymir, feeling outwitted and undone, gave Thor his cauldron. But…only if Thor could carry it. Another challenge and one that Thor was able to carry out. He put the cauldron on his shoulders and walked away with it.

But, apparently, some of the giants wanted revenge and they came after Thor. Thor whacked them with Mjolnir and killed them.

Thor brought the cauldron back to Asgard and gave it to Aegir. The cauldron was worth the effort. It was definitely big enough for all of the gods’ ale. They could drink all they wanted and the ale never ran out.


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